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France Sets Up the Refugee Hotspots

On July 27, 2017, French President Emmanuel Macron announced that France will set up refugee hotspots in Libya. These hotspots will process refugee claims and help deter people from attempting the journey across the Mediterranean.

The French government believes that by setting up the hotspots, it will prevent people ineligible for asylum from taking this dangerous and unpredictable journey and decrease human trafficking in the region.

France set up the refugee hotspots to help an estimated 660,000 refugees and internally displaced people in Libya. There are between 800,000 and one million men and women waiting in camps in Libya. So far, France is the only country in Europe to set up these hotspots, as other European countries are reluctant.

It is estimated that 100,000 people have made the trip across the Mediterranean since January. Sadly, more than 2,300 people have died on this journey and another 2,500 are missing. France set up the refugee hotspots to discourage people from making this dangerous trip in rickety boats operated by smugglers that frequently sink.

Days before France decided to set up the refugee hotspots, Macron hosted peace talks with Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj aimed at bringing some stability to Libya and slowing the flow of refugees. The talks reportedly went well, and the country agreed to a ceasefire and fresh elections.

France stated that the country wants to play a bigger role in persuading Libya’s factions to end the country’s political crisis and armed conflict that has allowed Islamist militants to gain a foothold and migrant smugglers to flourish in the absence of a strong central government.

France hopes to bring a significant change to the country. In 2015, France offered asylum to 20,630 refugees and wants to give more hope to the refugees waiting in Libya.

Paige Wilson

Photo: Google

Good News Amid the Refugee Ban Rollout
The number of refugees around the world is at an all-time high. There are currently 22.5 million people seeking refuge from their home countries. Fifty-five percent of these refugees hail from only three countries: Syria, Afghanistan and South Sudan. Most of these refugees are women and children. Children alone make up about half of all the world’s refugees. The Supreme Court’s approval of the refugee ban is bad news for these millions of people, but there is still good news in the way the ban is being rolled out.

Since his days on the campaign trail, President Trump has promised to make entry into the United States difficult for refugees. However, the road to a total blockade of all refugees has been a rocky one. President Trump originally signed Executive Order 13769 on January 27. The order initially intended to reduce the number of annual refugees from 100,000 to 50,000, suspend the U.S Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days and temporarily ban all Syrian refugees. The travel ban was met with mass protests at airports across the country and challenges from numerous judges. Amid this backlash, the Trump administration eased and then suspended the ban in March. It was not until June 26 that the Supreme Court finally approved Executive Order 13780, a revised version of the ban.

The revised travel ban is not as stringent as its predecessor, but it still suspends all refugee resettlement in the U.S. for 120 days. The good news amid the refugee ban is that only a week after it was approved, it already faces obstacles. The cut-off date for all refugee entry into the United States may be pushed back. Estimates project that it could take at least an extra week before the ban actually goes into effect.

The same legal challenges that initially plagued the first executive order persist in the face of the refugee ban. Immigrant, refugee and human rights groups are all pushing back against the ban. Federal judges have also issued challenges to the legality of the ban and the ambiguity of its interpretation. The guidelines allow for the entry of refugees with a “bona fide relationship” to “close family” in the U.S. The blurry lines of “close family” ties and “bona fide relationships” have complicated the implementation of the ban in U.S. embassies. All of these challenges offer points of hope for refugees.

The worldwide refugee crisis is dire and the refugee ban only threatens to worsen the situation. However, even as the order goes into effect, there is still hope for the many refugees who wish to resettle in the United States.

Bret Anne Serbin

Photo: Flickr

Albert_Einstein_refugee
As the author of the theory of special and general relativity, his name stands synonymous with the word “genius.” Changing fundamental ideas about the physical relationship between space, time, and gravitation, Albert Einstein radicalized how humans think about the building blocks of the physical world we live in. His theory of relativity was confirmed in 1919 from further research into solar eclipses. His popularization by the press gained him a quick rise to fame and in 1921, Einstein would receive the Nobel Prize for his related work.

Being himself a German Jew, Einstein cultivated an outspoken political personality and was well known for his pacifist ideals. His work, paired with his political persona triggered negative attention from extreme right-wing groups.

Anti-Semites were determined to publicize his discoveries as “un-German”. The rise of the Nazi party made it more and more difficult for Einstein to work in Germany, so in 1932 when offered a position at Princeton University, he accepted, retaining dual U.S. and Swiss citizenship.

While his theories were still widely taught, he was ultimately accused of treason in 1933 by the Nazi Third Reich; winning the party a partial victory when Einstein’s name could no longer be mentioned in academic circles. Although Einstein was not in Germany at the time, Nazi fanatics still had his property seized and his books were among those burned on the famous May 10, 1933, as a symbol of purging an “un-German” spirit.

He fled to the United States on October 17th of that year, using his fame and financial resources to work vigorously with his wife to obtain U.S. visas for other German Jew refugees. Einstein had haunting mixed feelings about his life in Princeton:

 

“I am privileged by fate to live here in Princeton…In this small university town the chaotic voices of human strife barely penetrate. I am almost ashamed to be living in such peace while all the rest struggle and suffer.”

 

Among many notable others, the legacy of Albert Einstein’s refugee status resulted in the founding of the German Academic Refugee Initiative Fund (DAFI), an organization whose primary objective is to promote self-reliance of refugees through providing professional qualifications for future employment. In addition, DAFI contributes to the development of critical human resources that may be needed in the potential restoration of refugees’ home countries. DAFI also offers a scholarship project; an effective instrument used to attain and maintain self-reliance of refugees when used in the right context. The funds given from the scholarship must be used to aid in the academic studies of eligible refugee recipients.

Thus, Albert Einstein left us not only with mind-blowing new theories in physics, but a key organization telling us that education paves the road out of socioeconomic poverty.

– Kali Faulwetter

Sources: Azer, UNHCR, Jewish Virtual Library, PPU, OFADEC
Photo: Native Pakistan

 

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As the war in the Middle East rages on, many people are forced to leave their homes due to violence and intolerance. As a result, millions of people from the Middle East are seeking refuge. Qatar, home to 2.7 million people, is a peninsular Arab country located on the Persian Gulf. Many Syrian refugees have tried to flee to Qatar but are unable to do so. Here are 10 facts about refugees in Qatar.

10 Crucial Facts to Know About Refugees in Qatar

  1. A refugee is someone forced to leave their country to escape a disaster.
  2. Despite being an extraordinarily wealthy country, Qatar has resettled no refugees.
  3. Many Gulf countries, including United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain, have also turned down Syrian refugees.
  4. There are more than 13.5 million people in Syria who are in need of humanitarian assistance. Five million Syrian refugees currently live inTurkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt.
  5. Qatar has earned vocal criticism for its refusal to accept refugees.
  6. Why are there no refugees in Qatar? Many experts blame visa restrictions, which make it difficult for Syrians to enter countries along the Gulf.
  7. Officials from Qatar defend the country by pointing out that their country donates millions of dollars to the United Nations to help refugees.
  8. In an exclusive interview, Qatari Foreign Minister Dr. Khalid Al-Attiyah further defended Qatar. He stated, “The state of Qatar is in no way falling short in its responsibilities when it comes to the Syrian crisis.” He reminded people that Qatar has launched many programs to help Syrian refugees, including humanitarian, economic and diplomatic initiatives.
  9. This is true, as seen in an initiative by Qatar back in 2012. In partnership with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees,  Sheikha Moza, a member of Qatar’s royal family, launched a $12 million education program that will help dozens of countries fund schooling for 172,000 refugee children.
  10. Despite Qatar’s financial aid, many experts believe Qatar must do more. The U.N. has requested that all developed nations open their borders to refugees, including Qatar.

Overall, Qatar’s response to the refugee crisis is quite controversial. Qatar has donated millions of dollars to help refugees, but it has yet to accept any refugees into its own borders. The hope for the future is that there will be more opportunities for Syrian refugees in Qatar.

Morgan Leahy

Photo: Flickr

Libya
A recent United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) study titled A Deadly Journey for Children: The Central Mediterranean Migration Route, surveyed migrant women and children in Libya making their way to Europe. Refugee children leaving war and poverty are being mentally and physically abused, sexually assaulted and starved.

Last September, it was estimated that 256,000 migrants were in Libya, 11 percent of whom were women and nine percent of whom were children. A third of these children were unaccompanied. However, these figures are estimations and the actual statistics are assumed to be much higher.

About 70 percent of migrants traveling through Africa to Europe experience some type of exploitation, according to an October International Organization for Migration (IOM) survey. Last year, nine of out 10 children who used the Central Mediterranean Migration Route arrived in Europe unaccompanied. Nearly 26,000 children made the journey in 2016, which is twice the number of children from the previous year. Unaccompanied children are more prone to different types of abuse, trafficking and exploitation.

UNICEF staff members in Libya have documented many cases of refugee child abuse over time. Three-quarters of the children interviewed in the survey said they had experienced some type of violence from an adult. A majority of the children had experienced emotional abuse, with girls reporting higher rates than boys. Some children also said that they had to rely on smugglers, which resulted in other types of abuse like trafficking.

Amid the refugee child abuse shown in this study, UNICEF has created a six-part plan that they want governments and the European Union to adopt. The UNICEF Agenda for Action is comprised of the following goals:

  1. Protect child refugees and migrants, particularly unaccompanied children, from exploitation and violence.
  2. End the detention of children seeking refugee status or migrating by introducing a range of practical alternatives.
  3. Keep families together as the best way to protect children and give them legal status.
  4. Keep all refugee and migrant children learning and give them access to health and other quality services.
  5. Press for action on the underlying causes of large-scale movements of refugees and migrants.
  6. Promote measures to combat xenophobia, discrimination and marginalization in countries of transit and destination.

UNICEF spokesperson Sarah Crowe told Al Jazeera, “We need to work on finding a solution to the root causes of the problem and we need to do more to support children at every step of the way.”

Shannon Elder

Photo: Flickr

What are Climate Refugees and How Can They be Protected?
At the end of 2015, there were 65.3 million refugees worldwide. The global community is struggling to provide resources for the world’s displaced peoples, and the situation has caused both economic and security issues. Many people are ignorant to the fact that there is another group of people who are extremely vulnerable to losing their homes.

Climate refugees, or environmental migrants, are forced to leave their homes because of climatically induced environmental changes or disasters. Specifically, people may be displaced because of drought, a rise in sea level, ecological changes, desertification or extreme weather patterns. Protecting climate change refugees grows increasingly relevant as the number of displaced peoples across the globe continues to skyrocket.

Since 2008, an average of 27 million people have been classified annually as climate refugees and in 2009, the Environmental Justice Foundation declared that nearly 10 percent of the world’s population were at risk in terms of losing their homes to climate change related issues.

As climate change continues to spread and develop, more and more people fall victim to environmental migration. The existence of environmental migrants proves that climate change is not solely about the environment and that its effects reach into many aspects of society, including politics, health and economics. Protecting climate refugees is important, as sources have suggested there could be as many as 50 to 200 million by the year 2050, most of these people being subsistence farmers and fishermen.

Just this year, the U.S. resettled its first climate refugees. The population is from the Isle de Jean Charles in southeastern Louisiana and they had to leave their homes due to severe flooding. In order to resettle its residents, the U.S. government has put forth a $48 million grant and has realized the harsh reality of this problem.

According to the International Organization for Migration, “Climate refugees often fall through the cracks of asylum law.” Currently, it is very difficult for an environmental migrant to achieve refugee status. The term “climate refugee” is not officially recognized by international law and according to the International Bar Association, “there are no frameworks, no conventions, no protocols and no specific guidelines that can provide protection and assistance for people crossing international borders because of climate change.”

The World Bank estimates that with a 1-meter rise in sea level, Bangladesh would lose close to 20 percent of its land mass. Currently, almost 200,000 Bangladeshi’s lose their homes annually due to river erosion and rising sea levels. The islands of Kiribati, Nauru and Tuvalu are already facing significant migration patterns due to the rising sea.

The lack of international protocol regarding climate refugees, such as the ones from Bangladesh and the small islands in the Central Pacific, means that there is also a lack of resources and pathways that can lead these people to a successful resettlement. Because of this, migration experts have been stressing for several years that at risk countries should first look into improving living conditions for vulnerable populations.

This includes helping them secure a consistent access to food and water, rebuilding infrastructure and establishing efficient emergency warning systems. As countries become more aware of their ecological situations, there is more pressure to provide resources for potential climate refugees.

In order to protect climate refugees, there needs to be a change in the international law that defines a “refugee.” The number of people affected in a negative way climatically grows by the day.

Besides advocating for universal policies regarding climate refugees, there are things that can be done to slow climate change and its negative effects. Supporting clean energy and anti-carbon emission related legislation can make a difference in improving the lives of communities who are vulnerable to environmental migration.

Peyton Jacobsen

Photo: Flickr

Refugee SummitThe United Nations released a statement on August 2, 2016 regarding the inaugural U.N. Summit on Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants. The event (also known as the U.N. Refugee Summit) will take place in New York on September 19, 2016.

Because the refugee crisis has reached unprecedented levels, representatives from all Member States will come together to discuss objectives for handling the crisis. Leaders will also outline a course of action that will ideally be put into effect over a 14-year period.

Upon announcement of the U.N. Refugee Summit, the United Nations also released a draft document that outlines objectives and proposals. In order to better understand what will occur during this summit, it is useful to review background information on key organizations and to examine the overall scope of the refugee crisis.

    1. The overarching goal of the U.N. Refugee Summit is to address migration on the basis of conflict, poverty, food insecurity, persecution, terrorism, marginalization and climate change.

In 2015, the number of displaced people worldwide surpassed 60 million for the first time in history.

According to a report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 65.3 million people were displaced last year. Approximately 40.8 million were internally displaced, 21.3 million were refugees and 3.2 million were asylum-seekers.

Among those 65.3 million, 12.4 million people became refugees because of conflict and persecution. Another 22.5 million fled from natural disasters and issues related to climate change.

In order to address these staggering numbers, the U.N. seeks the cooperation of all 193 Member States to create sustainable solutions for the global refugee crisis.

    2. Rhetoric that demonizes refugees is a crucial topic, as it is an issue that could potentially put refugees at increased risk.

The draft states simply, “We deplore all manifestations of xenophobia, racial discrimination and intolerance.” A key component of the U.N. Refugee Summit will be the effort to counter hateful attitudes toward refugees that only exacerbate the problem.

In order to quell international fears, summit members will design integration proposals that will make the intake process easier for all parties. Some of these proposals include language learning and policy education for refugees upon arrival in recipient nations.

    3. Because individual countries maintain their rights to border control, officials will work to reach a compromise between national border legislation and practices that comply with international refugee law.

It is important to remember that the UNHCR is not a supranational entity. However, U.N. standards dictate that Member States are obligated to collaborate with the UNHCR in upholding international refugee law.

According to refugee rights policies, “Countries may not forcibly return refugees to a territory where they face danger or discriminate between groups of refugees.” The idea in this case is to strike a balance between refugee rights and border control.

    4. Measures to decrease transit death will be another important discussion topic during the U.N. Refugee Summit.

The UNHCR reported that 203,981 refugees and migrants had traveled to Europe by May of 2016. One representative noted that the chance of dying in transit when crossing the Mediterranean was one in 81.

The journey from northern Africa to Italy has proven to be particularly dangerous, with mortality rates rising to one in 23. UNHCR Commissioner Filippo Grandi also emphasized the importance of dealing with refugee smugglers.

    5. Members will pay particular attention to the problems women and children refugees are facing in this crisis. 

A derivative of transit danger is the oppression of women and children as they travel between nations. Instances of transactional rape, sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and trafficking run rampant when people must rely on smugglers for transport.

One goal at this meeting will be to develop survivor-centric practices that help women report and deal with issues of SGBV. Member Nations must make these programs more accessible to women and girls as they travel.

Another issue is child death due to a lack of small life jackets. This summit will likely feature a discussion that focuses on transit death.

    6. In-depth evaluations of mass-exodus regions will come into play. The goal is to identify the root cause of crises in heavily affected areas and neighboring nations.

In 2015, over 50 percent of all refugees came from Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia. Officials want to uphold the idea that migration should never be a matter of necessity, which is why these areas deserve more attention.

Massive movement away from nations ultimately wreaks havoc on neighboring countries as well. During the U.N. Refugee Summit, alleviation of intake problems from top host countries like Turkey, Iran and Ethiopia (which border the former three nations, respectively) will be a priority.

      7.  Organizers will call on Member States to work with the Nansen Initiative to help those displaced by natural disasters.

The Nansen Initiative’s mission is to address legal gaps that leave refugees unprotected if they leave their home nations for environmental reasons.

Those who are internally displaced are already covered by international human rights laws and United Nations policies. However, refugees and migrants who must cross borders after natural disasters strike find themselves in murky waters.

By working with the Nansen Initiative during the Summit, leaders will attempt to close loopholes by protecting those who face climate-related displacement with appropriate action.

    8. Encouragement of global governance as it relates to refugee issues more generally is also on the agenda. The desired outcome is a working partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

IOM began in 1951 as an entity that works with government and humanitarian bodies to regulate migration. The organization essentially serves as an intermediary force that could potentially bridge gaps between nations.

Its role would be to promote policies, laws and humanitarian efforts that protect refugees and migrants on the basis of international refugee law in a global context.

    9. Statelessness is another keynote topic: there will be an emphasis on the UNHCR’s plan to end statelessness by 2024.

According to the UNHCR, a stateless individual refers to “a person who is not considered as a national by any State under the operation of its law.” Some of these rights include education, legal protection and healthcare. At least 10 million people are stateless worldwide. An individual can attain this status at birth or acquire it for reasons like ethnic discrimination, gender discrimination, birthplace or change of national borders.

Gaps in nationality legislation often lead to statelessness, and they need filling before millions of migrants and their children can receive the benefits of having a nationality.

    10. Perhaps most ambitious of all will be the UN’s push for all Member States to ratify the 1990 Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Works and Members of their Families.

The goal of this initiative is to develop standards of treatment for those who work in receiving nations. It would also disallow arbitrary expulsion from those nations.

When the treaty was presented for ratification in 2003, only 20 countries signed, none of which were Western migrant-receiving nations. Major recipients like Australia and India also failed to ratify. Failure to accept this treaty means that its principles of refugee worker protection are not technically in effect across 173 Member States.

Although the upcoming Summit is facing criticism for not being aggressive enough, representatives insist that objectives and proposals are being approached with substantial progress in mind.

As Karen AbuZayd, who serves as the Summit’s Special Adviser, explained to the United Nations News Centre, “[Member States] have agreed to a number of new actions that they will take on behalf of refugees and migrants. We should be happy about this and embrace it.”

The U.N. Refugee Summit is an important first step towards solving the refugee crisis and improving the lives of displaced individuals across the globe.

Madeline Distasio

Central American Refugee Crisis
Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, commonly referred to as the Northern Triangle of Central America (NTCA), have seen drastic increases in the numbers of migrants fleeing to nearby nations, creating the present Central American refugee crisis. Since 2012, pending asylum cases in the U.S. and Mexico have reached 109,800.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), large-scale violence, poverty and unemployment motivate men, women and children to flee. Classifying the increase as a ‘protection crisis,’ the UNHCR recently stated that it is “particularly concerned about the rising numbers of unaccompanied children and women on the run who face forced recruitment into criminal gangs, sexual- and gender-based violence and murder.”

In a study conducted by the UNHCR, 64 percent of the women interviewed included direct threats and attacks by members of criminal armed groups as a primary reason for their flight. These attacks corresponded with increased violence against women and minimal police protection.

In an attempt to escape the violence, Central American refugees and asylum seekers most often flee to the north. Mexico experienced a 164 percent increase in asylum seekers between 2013 and 2015. Currently, the majority of Mexico’s 3,448 refugees arrived from Central America.

Mexico accepts less than one percent of NTCA child refugees, despite their escape from violence. In 2015 alone, Mexico apprehended more than 35,000 Central American migrant children, a 55 percent increase from the year before.

The Human Rights Watch determined that authorities in Mexico often complicate the processes of seeking asylum, forcing thousands of children to return home.

To further complicate the NTCA refugee’s plight, women who flee often face heightened risks. High smuggling fees, rape and extortion threaten women throughout their journey, especially near the U.S.-Mexico border. Despite these obstacles, more than 66,000 unaccompanied children fleeing NTCA countries reached the U.S. in 2014. An additional 66,000 NTCA families entered the U.S. in the same year.

Data from 2015 shows the U.S. continues to be the main country receiving asylum applications from Central America, registering almost twice the number in 2014.

In response to the Central American refugee crisis, the UNHCR has been working with governments and civil society partners in the region to develop heightened refugee screening capacities. They are also aiming to build stronger assistance programs for asylum seekers, including greater reception capacity in neighboring countries.

Asylum Access, an international organization that works with local governments and the UN, helps refugees assert their rights in first countries of refuge. Asylum Access has operated in Ecuador since 2007 and expanded to Panama and Mexico in 2015.

Asylum Access provides Latin American refugees with legal assistance, community legal empowerment and advocates against deportation and arrest. Through establishing the Hospitality Route initiative, Asylum Access Mexico helps refugees from Central America avoid detention, deportation and arrest by providing access to safety and rights.

The UNHCR and Asylum Access are leaders in Central American refugee assistance and resource provision. With programs and policies that provide desperately needed and powerful aid, the Central American refugee crisis and its dangers will hopefully lessen.

Anna O’Toole

Photo: UNHCR

10 Facts About Palestine Refugees
The Arab-Israeli conflict has continued for more than 65 years. The absence of a Palestinian state has led to major difficulties in providing aid for their refugees. Palestine refugees differ from other refugee populations in the world and have a unique status as a result. In order to understand the struggle of refugees involved in this conflict, consider these 10 facts about Palestine refugees:

1. One in three refugees is Palestinian.

There are nearly 7.2 million Palestine refugees worldwide. The number of Palestinian refugees is nearly double that of Syrian refugees (3.8 million).

2. There are three main groups of Palestinian refugees.

The largest group is comprised of Palestinians who were displaced in 1948. Another major group are those who were displaced from the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 1967. The third group refers to internally displaced Palestinians.

Internally displaced refugees include both: Palestinians who remained in areas that later became the state of Israel, and Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip who lost their homes due to demolition, revocation of residency rights or the construction of Israeli settlements.

3. There is a specific U.N. relief organization for Palestine refugees.

The U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) began operations in 1950. All other refugee populations worldwide are protected by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

4. There are specific criteria for qualifying for UNRWA assistance.

The UNRWA provides aid for Palestine refugees who “lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict.” The other primary groups of refugees do not qualify for aid under the UNRWA mandate.

5. Palestinians are one of the only populations whose descendants also qualify as refugees.

As a result of Palestinian descendants gaining refugee status, there are currently 5 million refugees who qualify for UNRWA services. When the UNRWA began operations, the agency responded to the needs of only 750,000 Palestinian refugees.

6. There are 58 UNRWA recognized Palestine refugee camps.

There are 58 official and six unofficial refugee camps across Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

One-third of the registered Palestine refugees live in refugee camps. Camps typically have poor socioeconomic conditions, are extremely overcrowded and lack adequate roads and sewer systems.

7. Palestine refugee camps in Gaza comprise one of the highest population densities in the world.

More than half a million Palestine refugees live in the eight recognized refugee camps in Gaza. The number of refugees in the area continues to rise due to wars and bombings. Over 70 percent of Gaza’s total population are refugees.

8. Jordan has the most Palestinian refugees of any country.

There are over 2 million registered Palestine refugees living in Jordan. The number of refugees living in the Gaza Strip and West Bank combined is fewer than the amount living in Jordan.

9. Palestine refugees are granted citizenship in Jordan.

Jordan is the only host country that has granted Palestinian refugees full citizenship rights. Other host countries have been known to bar Palestinians from basic rights, such as health and educational services.

10. No Palestinian has ever lost their refugee status.

Palestinian refugees have been refused the right to return to their place of origin; Israeli officials have declared that such a right is not legitimate. The number of Palestine refugees has increased by more than six times the amount originally accounted for in 1948. This is a result of Palestinians being able to retain their refugee status.

These 10 facts about Palestine refugees are by no means an exhaustive list, however, it offers insight into the current situation. Palestinians are the largest and longest-standing group of refugees in the world. Palestinian refugees have suffered for over six decades and will continue to suffer until their basic needs and rights are met.

Kristyn Rohrer

Photo: Pixabay

Israeli Refugees

The creation of the state of Israel in 1948 left many of the Palestinians who lived in these lands without homes or basic rights. The current politics of Israel leaves many of these people without access to services and human rights. Israel houses tens of thousands of African asylum seekers, as well as many more Palestinians, both within and outside its borders. Here are 10 facts about Israeli refugees.

10 Facts About Israeli Refugees

  1. Those seeking asylum in Israel do not have any rights or eligibility for social services.
  2. The Israeli government tries to push many refugees out of the country by detaining them, not accepting their asylum claims, not allowing them to participate in social services and through repatriation.
  3. The Supreme Court of Israel does not approve of the government’s treatment of Israeli refugees, specifically those of African descent. In two separate decisions, the Court has asked the Israeli government for policies that will take basic human rights principles into considerations for African refugees. Although the government did not comply, the Court’s demands for more comprehensive legislation concerning refugees is a step in the right direction.
  4. Palestinian refugees who re-enter Israel are considered “infiltrators” for crossing the border under the Prevention of Infiltration Law. The Israeli government has considered them a threat to national security since it passed the law in the 1950s.
  5. As of 2008, the Israeli government also considers African refugees “infiltrators.” The government passed an amendment to the Prevention of Infiltration Law in 2011, officially making the presence of African refugees in Israel unlawful.
  6. African refugees protested in 2014 in order for the Israeli government to recognize their rights. According to the African Refugee Development Center (ARDC), this was the first time that the asylum-seekers had distinct leaders associated with the movement. The height of the movement involved about 20,000 refugees and supporters. The peaceful approach helped to give government officials and the public more empathy for these refugees. The foundations of these protests will hopefully pave the way to legislative and societal changes in favor of refugees.
  7. Palestinian refugees are among the largest refugee populations in the world. According to the Palestinian Return Centre, about one in every three refugees from around the world is Palestinian.
  8. Many Palestinian refugees have remained close to their places of origins in Israel, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. More than one and a quarter million Palestinian refugees live in the nearly 60 official refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. Others live in unofficial camps.
  9. The Palestinian Return Centre reports that some of the factors keeping Palestinians in camps include political and social struggles, as well as the physical safety of the camps. The refugee camps also stand as a symbol for the temporal situation of a people still asking to return to their homes.
  10. Even after many decades of displacement due to struggles with the Israeli government, Palestinians cannot return to their homes within the state of Israel in most cases. The peace process between Israel and Palestine has been slow, and most of the deliberations have not accounted for refugee rights.

The Israeli government must find a way to ensure the rights of Israeli refugees, whether they are from Palestine, Africa or anywhere else. Considering the current lack of legislative support for Israeli refugees, the refugee protests and pushes from the Supreme Court are a crucial foundation for ensuring the rights of these people.

Addie Pazzynski

Photo: Flickr